Barbara Rittner waxed lyrical about Iga Swiatek’s progress after winning the French Open, and says the biggest challenge for the Pole is to translate her dominance onto grass.
Rittner highlighted Swiatek’s physical and mental strengths in a hard-fought path to glory at Roland-Garros.
"It was remarkable how she managed to deal with these unbelievably high expectations at just 21 years of age,” she told Eurosport Podcast Das Gelbe vom Ball.
ATP Tel Aviv
Djokovic battles past 'best friend' Pospisil in Tel Aviv Open quarter-finals
"She has given the last proof of how good she is and what she is able to achieve. She showed that she can find ways to deal with difficult situations even during the tournament.
"She didn't play her best tennis from the start, and struggled a bit in the third round, then didn't win so easily afterwards, but then played her very best tennis in the semi-final and final - she didn't give Jessica Pegula or Coco Gauff the slightest chance.
“She herself described what the title means to her, how valuable it is. In doing so, she impressively underlined the dominant role the No. 1 in world tennis is in right now, not only in terms of her game, but also mentally."
However, Rittner added that grass offers a threat to Swiatek’s dominance.
"The biggest challenge now is the grass. Iga has shown what she is able to do on hard courts, has impressively proven that she can continue seamlessly on clay," she said.
"Clay has always been her best surface. On grass, she lost to Ons Jabeur in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year - admittedly in three sets, but 1-6 and 1-6 in the second and third set. On the other hand, she won the youth tournament there in in 2018 as well.
"So, it will be interesting to see how she manages the switch to grass now and whether she can bring that focus and that dominant way of playing to the next surface."
The former German Fed Cup team captain also offered her view on Alex Zverev’s chances of winning the French Open if he was not forced to withdraw in his semi-final defeat to Rafael Nadal.
"I had the feeling that if Sascha had won that second set, he would have beaten Nadal in four sets. He was just incredibly physically and mentally stable, and he determined certain rallies again and again. He was the dominant player. In this situation he was closer to winning a Grand Slam than ever before, because you saw how clear it was in the final."
She is also tipping Matteo Berrettini as an outside bet to win Wimbledon, before discussing the prospects of the usual suspects in Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
“I'm thinking especially of someone like Matteo Berrettini, who was already in the [Wimbledon] final last year. It's impressive how he has returned after a three-month injury break. If Rafa plays - he hasn't completely ruled it out yet - then he's definitely a candidate. Otherwise, Novak Djokovic is the player to beat because the Russian players are not in the tournament."
Alcaraz and Nadal make history with Spaniards set to take top two ranking spots
ATP Tel Aviv
Djokovic into Tel Aviv quarters after victory featuring 'longest game' of his career